If you have questions about events, call Lynn at (781) 608-7218.
Print out the latest concert postcard, and please help us spread the word by passing them out to your friends!
Tickets for concerts in Watertown (not house concerts or other events) can be purchased online at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Here's what we presented earlier this season:
And here's a preview of next season:
Andy Cohen is a virtuosic blues guitarist whose repertoire consists largely of African/American music and song of the Southeast quadrant of the United States. Marge Steiner sings ballads and folk songs that she collected in her folklore fieldwork in Northern Ireland and in Canada, and anything else that strikes her fancy. Her repertoire ranges from serious to sacred to silly. Andy's tasteful guitar work serves as a wonderful complement to Marge's singing.
Purchase tickets online at BrownPaperTickets.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
Brian Peters (UK) and Jeff Davis (USA) have been performing together on both sides of the Atlantic on and off for sixteen years. Although Brian's music is essentially English folk, while Jeff's is often categorised as American Old-Time, the two share a love for old songs in general, and the folk music of one another's countries, so that they work together intuitively as a duo. To Brian's multi-instrumental skills on concertina, melodeon and guitar are added Jeff's mighty talents on fiddle, banjo, mandocello and guitar, while their voices blend beautifully in harmony. A concert might include ballads from the old world or the new, sea songs, cowboy songs, and all kinds of instrumentals from mountain fiddle breakdowns to English country dance tunes, often featuring the unusual but heaven-sent combination of concertina and mandocello.
Brian and Jeff have performed together at venues such as Old Songs Festival (NY), Mystic Seaport (CT), Champlain Valley Festival (VT), Lunenburg Folk Festival (Nova Scotia), Boston Folksong Society, Cecil Sharp House (London), Bromyard, Derby, Fylde, Warwick, Whitby Folk Festivals (UK).
Ben and Joe have been playing together for almost 5 years, the last 3 of which sent them to the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, learning at the feet of the elders of the acoustic blues tradition. They found an affinity in the many branches that tied into the blues and created this duo as a way to explore these branches. Their musical kinship and sense of joy in interpreting this music is evident and was the basis of an invitation Dom Flemons (formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) to form his band when he went solo. Ben and Joe joined Dom on his recent album, Prospect Hill, and toured the US with him, furthering their knowledge of Anglo and African American music traditions. Rather than thinking of their music as blues, it’s best to situate Ben and Joe (and Dom) as American songsters. A songster traditionally refers to an African-American artist whose repertoire is much broader than the old blues, and spans many of the genres that Ben and Joe Inhabit. Big Bill Broonzy and Mississippi John Hurt are classic examples of songsters. Whatever you want to call it, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons make American music. They make music that hews to the rough-and-tumble collisions of musical inspirations from the early 20th century; music that paved the way for everything we enjoy today.
The songs on their new album, Take Yo Time, tap into everything from the hokum jug bands of Gus Cannon and the Memphis Sheiks, to country blues masters Reverend Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, and Blind Willie McTell. They also touch on ancient English ballads like House Carpenter, Appalachian murder ballads like the classic Tom Dooley, and the early jazz compositions of Shelton Brooks and Duke Ellington. All of these traditions are tied together in the swirling musical whirlpool of pre-war American music. With a well-rosined fiddle and an old banjo, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are tracing these backroads, bringing the songs back to life.
Purchase tickets online at BrownPaperTickets.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
These three talented women (Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen) joined forces in 1987 while working on Priscilla's Darkness Into Light recording. The unique blend of their voices encouraged them toward additional collaboration on festival and concert hall stages. Enthusiastic responses from audiences around the country culminated in the recording of their first album Voices (1990, Flying Fish Records).
Though the album met with critical acclaim, their busy solo careers made only occasional trio performances possible. In 1996 the trio decided to create a more formal program that would allow them to tour for three weeks out of each year.
Their second release, Voices of Winter, was recorded live during that tour and released the subsequent Fall (Gadfly Records). It instantly became a favorite seasonal recording of public radio stations across the country.Called a "genuine folk super-group" by The Boston Globe, separately and together they have garnered countless accolades and awards from radio, press and concert presenters both within and outside the folk community. Their musical alliance has served to bring their collective vocal talents to an even larger and more diverse audience.
Priscilla, Anne and Cindy bring intricate arrangements to newly found musical treasures with an art-song vocal styling that crosses the boundaries of folk and classical music. Their empathy in performance is near telepathic, and the magic of a Herdman, Hills, Mangsen show engages people of all ages and musical backgrounds.
Priscilla, Anne and Cindy headed into the studio in August of 2000 to record their third collaborative effort. At the Turning of the Year includes old and new songs exploring the cycle of the seasons.
The trio was honored to be included in a tribute album, Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, volume 3 released by Appleseed Recordings in the Fall of 2003. They recorded a version of Pete's song "River of My People" for the 2-CD set, which also includes songs and commentary by Pete himself, and versions of his songs sung by many of his friends, including Pat Humphries, Magpie, John McCutcheon, and Tom Paxton.
Herdman, Hills, Mangsen entrances audiences from fireside to concert hall with an evening of fresh enriching music, perfect for a season that asks us to listen to our ancestors, to our traditions, to our hearts and to each other.
Lisa Null has been unearthing and singing traditional folksongs all her life. While they are not the only music she loves, these songs convey messages from the past to the present from people who have much to tell us that is touching, inspiring, or just plain fun. When Lisa sings, she creates a community where boundaries of time and culture disappear, if only for a moment, through the magic of choruses, refrains, and deep listening.
In Connecticut, Lisa co-founded the Green Linnet record label with sixties folk star Pat Sky. During their years of active involvement in the early 1970s, they issued recordings of pathfinding musicians they both admired: Seamus Ennis, Peter Bellamy, Joe Heaney, Margaret MacArthur, Rosalie Sorrels. Soon, however, Lisa found herself touring nationally and internationally with Bill Shute, former lead guitarist for "The Fifth Estate," a hit rock group. Bill had trained as a jazz guitarist and especially loved the stanzaic pattern of most old folksongs because they gave him plenty of opportunity to play around with a tune as the words suggested. He often used banjo tunings on his guitar and worked with pulsing rhythms. Together, Lisa and Bill performed many times on Garrison Keillor's" A Prairie Home Companion" as well as most of the major folk festivals in Canada and the United States. They developed a reputation for their arrangements of songs for which no previous accompaniments were likely to exist. When Bill got married, Lisa quit touring, passed Green Linnet on to its manager Wendy Newton, and went back to college and graduate school, combining studies in history, folklore, and anthropology.
In 1991, Lisa moved to the Washington D.C. area where she could combine interesting work with a lively folk music community. She taught all facets of American Musical Life in courses at Georgetown University, picked up a library degree, and worked as a reference librarian and writer/editor at the Library of Congress until cancer forced her to retire on disability. Working from home since the late 1990s, she sings (usually a cappella), teaches voice, and coaches other performers while taking on substantive editorial projects. Charlie Baum is her domestic partner of twenty-three years and serves as a mainstay of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. He is as deeply involved in folk music as she is. Although known primarily as an organizer, Charlie often adds a few solos of his own at Lisa's concerts.
Two of Lisa's original Green Linnet recordings with Bill Shute ("The Feathered Maiden" and "American Primitive") have been re-released by Folk-Legacy Records which will also realease a two-CD album "Legacies" this fall. "Made with the help of Washington area friends and musicians, "Legacies" features several of Lisa's own songs and tunes as well as a wealth of traditional material.
Sunday, December 6, 2015, 2-5 pm
in the back room at Doyle's Cafe
3484 Washington St.
Jamaica Plain, MA
Do you harbor a secret belief that a lot of Handel would sound great when sung like a pub tune? Do you think the church choir would be more fun if you could play along on your fiddle? If so, come and join us! Find out what the English were doing while we were evolving the Shape Note tradition, and hear what Thomas Hardy’s characters, or Jane Austen and her preacher father, heard on a Sunday morning!
Come and sing Carols from the Sheffield, West Gallery, and Sacred Harp traditions (as well as some standard favorites), led by Bruce Randall of The West Gallery Quire. Secial guests, The Paper Bag Mummers, will provide merriment and mayhem!
This event is suitable for all voices and melodic instruments. Music will be available.
Alan's first love is for traditional English song and music but his repertoire also includes some great songs from other traditions and more recent compositions. While he learned his trade as an unaccompanied singer, he now also relishes playing the English concertina, both on its own and accompanying his singing.
His particular area of interest is singing sea songs and shanties. This has led him to sing solo at numerous maritime/shanty festivals, including at Falmouth, Harwich, Hull, Scarborough and Whitby and at Enkhuizen in the Netherlands. In addition, he was a member of the now-defunct Shellback Chorus and, along with three other shantymen, He set up a shanty crew called Sharp As Razors, and as a result has sung at folk & maritime festivals all over the UK, as far apart as Edinburgh, the Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
Alan has recorded two CDs: the first "Soaring Enchanted" is a lyrical mixture of folk and maritime songs, while more recently he recorded "White Stocking Day" as a collection of shanties and sea songs.
Purchase tickets online at BrownPaperTickets.com.Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
The annual FSSGB members' concert is always a popular event. Our members perform songs which range from traditional ballads to original compositions, and from instrumental to a cappella pieces. Some of the instruments that have been played at this concert in the past include violin, cello, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, keyboard and concertina. Some FSSGB members who have performed at this event have gone on to have successful performing careers, such as Elijah Wald, Mark Ryer, Fool's Errand and Merle Roesler.
Members are invited to sign up to perform - one song or a spoken word piece. You may perform alone or with others. Some performers have been participating for years; others will do so for the first time. Children are most welcome. The program will feature professional musicians as well as living room folk enthusiasts. All are welcome. The Midweek Singers are an important part of the program as are the many members who show up especially for this event. The audience is always supportive and lively.
FSSGB members (including new members!) are welcome to sign up to perform one song or spoken word piece. Contact Lori Fassman at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up by February 17th.
Proceeds from this show help keep the Society strong - we thank the performers and the audience for making this event possible.
Click here to hear some recordings done by our talented members!
Mai Hernon is a renowned traditional singer from Gurteen, Co. Sligo, who has recorded four highly acclaimed CDs. She has toured Ireland, England, Europe and now America performing and teaching traditional singing style from the West of Ireland. She has conducted workshops and performed at the Catskills Irish Arts Week,The Dublin Irish Fest in Ohio and many other festivals. She has shared stages with some of the best traditional musicians such as members of Dervish, Cherish the Ladies, Socks in the Frying Pan and many more. She takes the ancient songs from her homeland and breaths new life into them. She is the real deal when it comes to Irish tradition. She sings the songs in Irish and English, and also plays Bodhran. She is a unique storyteller and tells her listeners about the songs and their history.
Kyle Carey is a singer/songwriter who hails from New Jersey. She has a strong selection of fine Scottish songs in Scots Gaelic that she performs along side her own wonderful creations. Kyle spends a lot of time touring Europe where she is very well received. She has to date two highly acclaimed CDs of her own compositions. She has toured America, Scotland and Europe. She is performing at the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland this year before she takes off on a 6 week European tour. Kyle spent a year on one of the Gaelic speaking Islands off the Scottish coast learning to speak Scots Gaelic, and while there she was introduced to some of the singers from the area. She has worked with many well known musicians. Seamus Egan produced her last album and she had many great musicians join her.
Nancy Hewitt, who lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, is a singer/songwriter/poet, who focuses on "Celtic Pulse" and traditional formats through her repertoire stretching through West African Rock, Choral, Folk, Country and a genre she coins "New Wave Gospel A Cappella". She's played stages as intimate as Club Passim and as grand as Stanford University's Frost Amphitheatre. She has two very fine recordings of original material, which one of these was recorded in Ireland. She has worked with such fine musicians as Steve Wickham from the Waterboys and many others. Her love of Irish and Scottish folk and Ballads comes from her Irish Nanny who sang to her when she was a child.
Together, the ladies sing the ancient songs of Ireland, in Irish and English, the old of Scotland in Scots Gaelic and English, and the modern songs of America. They breathe new life into the old songs with their treatment of harmonies and unique arrangements.
Purchase tickets online at BrownPaperTickets.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
This exciting duo, whose harmonies will send shivers up your spine, has racked up a string of successes in songwriting, studio recording, and crowd-pleasing displays of instrumental and vocal virtuosity. They have appeared on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" public radio show, and have toured from coast to coast. Their first album together, Satisfied Customers, on the Flying Fish label, gives testimony to their wide-ranging abilities.
Sally Rogers has achieved national recognition as a solo performer. Sally's second album was voted "Best Folk Album of the Year" by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Pete Seeger said, "Sally has a beautiful voice and has written many extraordinarily good songs that are going to reach out and touch large numbers of people. They sure are great songs!" Rogers is currently serving as Connecticut's official State Troubadour, and also as a Master Teaching Artist for the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Howie Bursen is known for his warm baritone voice, devilish sense of humor, inventive guitar arrangements, and red-hot banjo wizardry. Chicago Magazine said, "stunning guitar arrangements...easily one of the finest banjo players ever heard." His song, "Small Business Blues", was recently recorded by Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Holly Near on their album, Harp. Pete also included it in his book, Carry it On, published by Simon and Schuster.
Rogers and Bursen met, appropriately enough at a Greenwich Village coffeehouse in 1981, and ever since have been building a national reputation at festivals and concert halls throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. They were married in 1982 and now make their home on the shores of a one-time cranberry bog in Eastern Connecticut.
Proceeds from this concert will benefit the First Parish's Helen Robinson Wright fund, which provides assistance for individuals in need.
Claudia Schmidt has been perfecting her craft of performing for almost four decades. It is a quirky and wonderful hodge-podge (her word!) of music, poetry, story, laughter. drama, and celebrating the moment. Work in clubs, theaters, festivals, TV, radio has added depth and dimension, and since she has always included her original work along with very personal versions of the work of others, what you get is a unique look at the world from someone who says what she sees with clarity, humor, and wonder. The San Francisco Bay Guardian said "Schmidt's shows are a lot like falling in love. You never know what's going to happen next, chances are it's going to be wonderful, every moment is burned into your memory and you know you'll never be the same again." More succinctly, Garrison Keiilor said "when Claudia sings a song, it stays sung".
More than 4 decades as a touring professional have found Michigan native Claudia Schmidt traversing North America as well as Europe in venues ranging from intimate clubs to 4,000 seat theatres, and festival stages in front of 25,000 rapt listeners. She has recorded nineteen albums of mostly original songs, exploring folk, blues, and jazz idioms featuring her acclaimed 12-string guitar and mountain dulcimer playing.
Keith and Sylvia sing mainly English traditional and traditionally influenced contemporary songs and work extensively all over the UK, Europe and beyond. Both have a very wide ranging repertoire, strong voices and uncannily compatible and complimentary styles of delivery, affording an exciting enhancement in duo and between them produce a striking acapella harmony sound. With a formidable history of performing experience behind them, their recorded work is matched only by their live gigs which are always a vocal and musical revelation as well as a hoot! They also frequently accompany themselves and play lively dance tunes on three different systems of the only English invented musical instrument - the Concertina. And when they're not doing that you'll probably find them playing lively and stirring music for the Winster Morris Dancers.
We'll start with a potluck supper at 6:30pm...bring something to share if you can!
Norman Kennedy is an unaccompanied singer of traditional Scottish songs. He learned his songs naturally by growing up around some of the great Scottish singers of the last generation. He has a wide repertoire of songs learned directly from them without the facility of tapes and records. He learned them, not because he wanted to be a folk singer, but because even as a boy he was drawn to the music.
In concert, Norman draws only from that body of old songs. His concerts have a relaxed informality about them. He comes out on stage, takes a seat and seemingly starts a conversation with the audience. His dry sense of humor and memory of the stories surrounding the songs make his listeners appreciate not only the old songs, but the old ways as well. "You can tell stories, you can recite them, you can sing them," he says. Singing and recollecting are all part of the same cloth. With this directness he presents ballads -- stories of love won and lost, betrayal, death -- in a way that holds everyone's attention.
Norman shares what is enduring about traditional songs - their authenticity to life, the humorous turns of every-day events, the beauty of old melodies. As Norman explains it: "These songs are my roots; they're older and more important than I am." This unpretentiousness makes Norman's music as wonderful to the audience as it is important to him.
David Jones, originally from England and now living in Leonia, New Jersey, gateway to the golden west, has a large repertoire of folksong from both sides of the Atlantic. He has performed in North America, Britain, Australia and Europe, singing at festivals, concert halls, clubs, maritime museums and colleges, presenting songs from the great days of sail, Music Hall favorites, traditional ballads, and the works of contemporary writers. He sings both a capella and with guitar accompaniment and involves his audience in refrains and choruses ranging from boisterous to sentimental.
As well as performing solo, David has sung with Heather Wood and the late Tom Gibney as Poor Old Horse, with Jeff Warner, Jeff Davis and the late Jerry Epstein as The Bermuda Quadrangle, with Peter Marston and Charles O'Hegarty as The Starboard List, and was a member of the Clearwater singing crew. He has also sung and recorded with Dan Zanes and Friends and his work with the guitarist Bill Shute led to the award winning Widdecombe Fair now available on the Dan Zanes label, Festivalfive Records. He now sings songs of the sea with The New York Packet at South Street Seaport in New York City, still performs with Heather Wood as a duo, and with Jerry Epstein, who adds wonderful piano and concertina accompaniments to the songs.
David has played feature roles in many theatrical productions to favorable critical reviews, and has performed across the USA as the featured artist in The Victorian Revels, a production based on traditions of the Winter Solstice conceived and produced by Revels Inc. He has played the part of the great sailor Joshua Slocum in Sailing Alone, with words and music by Dillon Bustin, and has sung and provided narration for a number of Public Broadcasting productions, including A Prairie Home Companion, Africans in America and Simple Gifts.
Friday, August 19, 2016, 8pm
$20 at the door
$5 for students (only if reserved in advance)
Reservations required; email HouseConcerts@fssgb.org for
reservations and directions.
Scottish singer, folklorist and writer Margaret Bennett was brought up in a family of tradition bearers, Gaelic on her mother’s side (from the Isle of Skye) and Lowland Scots on her father's. She has sung at festivals in many parts of the world and loves to share songs with folk who like to sing. A former lecturer at the University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies, she teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and "wears her scholarship lightly" though widely regarded as Scotland's foremost folklorist. Margaret sings, tells stories and lectures on both sides of the Atlantic, and, as a recent Scottish Arts Council festival reviewer noted, it's "rare to witness such a charismatic and fascinating raconteur." She is also known for collaborations with her son, the late Martyn Bennett, featuring in theatre and film, including world-acclaimed play, The Black Watch. She also features with Sheila Stewart (and sings) in the film, Blackbird (2014). The late Hamish Henderson wrote, "Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland."
Skip Gorman takes the music from one of the most romanticized periods of American history -- the days of the cattle drives and the westward expansion -- and strips away the Hollywood glitz and Nashville affections, and shows the audience the beauty of the music of the working cowboys along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. He is a fluent yodeler, and a masterful mandolin and fiddle player. Skip began his recording career with the Deseret String Band in the 1970's, but has drawn recent acclaim with his 1994 release, A Greener Prairie He also performs the fiddle tune, Cowboy Waltz, in the recent Ken Burns TV documentary, Baseball. This recent attention has given him a very busy touring schedule, which includes the British Isles and North America. And he is also known as a teacher of fiddle and mandolin styles, as well as conducting workshops and programs that teach people about the history of the true American West.
The Crofters and Cowboys concert brings together two distinctive styles of music and song rooted in the lifestyles, landscapes and traditions of the Old Country. Come gather round the fireside with Skip Gorman and Margaret Bennett for a very special evening of Scottish, Irish and American music and songs that range across all the emotions as well as thousands of miles. You won’t want to miss it!
"Arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer, collector and editor of them all" - Q Magazine
For more than 40 years Martin Carthy has been one of folk music's greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. His skill, stage presence and natural charm have won him many admirers, not only from within the folk scene, but also far beyond it. Trailblazing musical partnerships with, amongst others, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick and his award-winning wife (Norma Waterson) and daughter Eliza Carthy have resulted in more than 40 albums, but Martin has only recorded 10 solo albums, of which the much anticipated Waiting for Angels is the latest.
Whether in the folk clubs (which he continues to champion), on the concert stage or making TV appearances (he was the subject of the acclaimed 'Originals' music documentary strand on BBC 2) - there are few roles that Martin Carthy hasn't played. He's a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic & electric guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material. He always prefers to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position. Perhaps, most significant of all, are his settings of traditional songs with guitar, which have influenced a generation of artists, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, on both sides of the Atlantic.
In June 1998 he was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He was named Folk Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2002, and again in 2005 when he also won the award for Best Traditional Track for 'amous Flower of Serving Men. In the 2007 Folk Awards Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick won Best Duo. In 2008 he won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Best Traditional Track for Cold Haily Rainy Night alongside Eliza Carthy and Chris Wood as part of The Imagined Village project.
This is what the BBC website has to say about Martin Carthy and his award in 2005:
"For four decades, Martin Carthy's work has immeasurably enriched the British folk heritage. He is regarded as one of the finest singers and interpreters of traditional music of the British Isles, as well as a highly influential and much-imitated guitarist. Awarded the MBE for services to English folk music in 1998, his drive and enthusiasm are undiminished and he continues to be one of folk music's great innovators."
Sunday, September 11, 2pm
Old Manse, 269 Monument St, Concord
The Folk Song Society of Greater Boston is once again presenting the Woody Guthrie tribute "Bound for Glory" at the Old Manse in Concord MA. This is a free concert performed outside under a tent, adjacent to the Old Manse in Concord, near North Bridge. The show features performers from former Woody shows way back to the 60's, along with newer FSSGB members.
For more information about "Bound for Glory", contact Ellen Schmidt, email@example.com or (978) 369-8090.
Friday, September 16, 7pm
New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston
In celebration of the new Folk Song Society of Greater Boston Collection at the New England Conservatory, an Open House reception is being planned for Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. Please join us!